Kansas City Royals Mike Minor Was A Flyer Worth Taking

Aug 1, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor (36) pitches during the fifth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 1, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor (36) pitches during the fifth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Mike Minor is just the latest of Dayton Moore’s reclamation projects

As the Kansas City Royals enter Spring Training, Kings of Kauffman will release a series of articles on the 25-man roster. We will be going through each individual player, including the locks, bubble players, and a few prospects. We will progress through the roster from the top down, starting with the rotation.

So far, we have looked at Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Ian KennedyChris Young, Danny Duffy, and Kris Medlen.

Today, we will be looking at Mike Minor.

All statistics provided by Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, and Brooks Baseball

"2015 stats – Did not play in 20152016 Steamer –  3-3, 4.09 ERA, 34 SO, 13 BB, 1.29 WHIP, 4.40 FIP"

Projected (upside) Role – Bottom of the rotation starter

2015 Results

I debated whether or not to even do a preview on Minor.

He will likely not be ready to go by opening day and, even if he is, he will not jump right into the rotation.

However, if he can get healthy, he will make a Royals rotation that had little to no depth last year even deeper.

As noted in his stats, Minor did not play in 2015. His 2014 campaign was plagued with shoulder inflammation, as well as an overall lack of effectiveness.

Minor is, however, just two years removed from posting a 3.21 ERA over 200+ innings and being a 3.5 fWAR starting pitcher.

This type of signing has become somewhat of Dayton Moore’s MO. Yes, the part about signing former Braves, but moreso the part about signing embattled pitchers to contracts with little risk and high reward.

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Much is to be said about the complete 180 the organization has completed in making Kansas City a spot that these pitchers see as desirable.

As much giving contracts to guys like Chris Young, Kris Medlen, and Mike Minor can be passed off as routine depth building, you have to think these guys had offers to play elsewhere.

For as cheap as they were and the recent success they’ve each had, their signing with Kansas City has more to do with Moore and his courtship than we’d like to believe.

These players are coming to Kansas City because they see both a proven history in recovering injured pitchers, as well as seeing an opportunity to contribute on a legitimate contender.

Jon Morosi had this to say:

The Kansas City Royals have become a legitimate destination. What a world.

Back to Minor. This signing has all the evidence of your classic Dayton Moore insurrection story.

Multiple years, high incentive, and just a tad more guaranteed money than some would care to see.

Minor is guaranteed $7.25 million over two years, if you include the buyout for 2018.

It’s basically Kris Medlen all over again.

Both had career years in 2013, before losing a season to injury. Both got multiple years while still injured and a good chunk of guaranteed money.

2016 Outlook 

Both Medlen and Minor’s contracts are unique. Both contracts are built around the second year, giving each player ample time to get healthy.

On the surface, both are a bargain. If both were to come back from their respective injuries and even mimick their previous success, you’re looking at two starting pitchers with a little top-shelf upside, being paid $5 million and $4 million, respectively.

If the second season pans out, you also have a $10 million option, a good price for a starting pitcher.

However, you also run the risk of the pitcher not returning to form, and in this case, Minor is the heavier risk.

Medlen was signed coming off Tommy John surgery, the year after his career year.

Minor is coming off surgery for a torn labrum, an injury that has proven much more difficult to recover from. It’s also easy to forget that he had almost another full season under his belt before the injury, notching a 4.77 ERA over 25 starts in 2014.

Given, he dealt with shoulder issues that whole season, but his effectiveness was definitely not there.

So what can we expect from Minor? Well, I wouldn’t expect a lot.

He will likely be healthier at an early point in the season than Medlen was last season, but like I said earlier, shoulder injuries are usually more unforgiving than Tommy John.

The dream scenario, I assume, would be that he can come in and help platoon with Chris Young and Kris Medlen to fill out the games not started by Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, and Ian Kennedy.

Even if he isn’t overwhelmingly effective, those innings would go a long way. They would also allow Danny Duffy move to the bullpen full time, and that would just be too fun.

The worst case scenario is that in his two years in Kansas City, he is never able to regain his form while continuing to struggle with that shoulder.

Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus compiled this list of players who had had surgery for a torn labrum, back in 2012.

Of the 67 pitchers, 18 did not return to baseball at all. Another 19 threw fewer than 50 innings in the majors after surgery.

Combine those two categories, and you’ll that 57% of the pitchers on this list made little to no impact at the major league level after surgery.

However, 16% of those pitchers did go on to throw at least 400 major league innings after the surgery.

It’s reasonable to hope that Minor will be able to regain his form enough to give the Royals a little something in 2016 and a real contribution in 2017.

Is it likely? According to those numbers, no.

Next: Kris Medlen Provides Depth and Upside

But for the price, if Minor can stay healthy and give the Kansas City Royals even a taste of his 2013 production over the course of the next two years, the contract will be worth it.